BRUSSELS, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) --- Top leaders of the European Union (EU) mainly focused on the U.S. spying scandal and growing immigration concerns in the Mediterranean during a two-day summit that ended Friday in Brussels.
The digital market as well as jobs and growth had been scheduled as the main topics for the summit. Instead, EU leaders spent rather limited time on those issues and only reached broad consensus on next steps for the digital economy among others.
In addition, EU leaders called for maximum simplicity and minimum hassle for business, while European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso promised to cut red tape and make regulations fit for purpose. The calls to cut red tape had been brought up by British Prime Minister David Cameron prior to the summit.
TALKS WITH U.S. OVER SPYING
France and Germany launched an initiative of seeking talks with the United States over the alleged spying on its European allies, and all 28 EU member states agreed on the nature of the initiative, according to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
"The UK has a special relationship [with the U.S.], but they are completely on board," Van Rompuy told reporters.
Both Berlin and Paris wanted to seek an agreement or an understanding with the U.S. in the field of secret service by the end of the year, while inviting all the other member states to join their initiative, Van Rompuy said at the press conference ending the summit's first day in the early hours of Friday.
EU leaders expressed their conviction that the partnership must be based on respect and trust, including with respect to the work and cooperation of secret services, according to a statement adopted during the summit.
"A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field of intelligence gathering," said the statement.
On Thursday, Berlin summoned the U.S. ambassador over allegations of spying on the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which was denied by the White House.
Merkel said upon arrival on Thursday afternoon that the U.S. conduct of bugging her phone was "unacceptable." She had called U.S. President Barack Obama on the eve of the summit, warning of a breach of trust.
Earlier this week, French President Francois Hollande had also asked for an explanation from Obama over the phone, following allegations of U.S. spying on millions of French phone calls.
The fresh round of spying scandals came only months after European media reported about the U.S. national security agency' s bugging EU offices, based on the information leaked by Edward Snowden.
IMMIGRATION TASK FORCE
On the second day of the summit, EU leaders vowed to tackle immigration issues in the Mediterranean with a task force, in response to a shipwreck off an Italian island that had killed hundreds in early October.
"Leaders all agree determined actions should be taken in order to prevent the loss of lives at sea and to avoid that such tragedies happen again," Van Rompuy told a press conference on Friday.
"We will return to asylum and migration in December precisely with operational conclusions," Van Rompuy added, referring to the next summit in two months.
The task force would address the root causes of illegal migration flows and work with countries of origin and transit, according to the president.
Van Rompuy also called on member states to swiftly implement the new European border surveillance system Eurosur and reinforce the activities of the EU's border agency Frontex in the Mediterranean.
The EU would have a longer-term reflection on asylum and migration policies next June, during its wider debate on legislative and operational work in the field of freedom, justice and security, he added.
"All leaders agree to share responsibility with the member states most affected by migration flows," Van Rompuy said.
BERLIN, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- High-ranking representatives of the German security services as well as the chancellery will travel to Washington next week to seek clarifications of widespread U.S. spying allegations, including those of mobile phone communications of Chancellor Angela Merkel, a government spokesman said on Friday.
The German representatives are due to hold talks with White House officials as well as representatives of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), German government spokesman Georg Streiter told reporters on Friday. Full story
BEIJING, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- China on Friday called on the international community to speed up the formulation of guidelines for cyberspace after the United States was accused of spying on the phone records of its allies.
"We have noticed relevant reports and the remarks by some nations' leaders. It is the latest testimony that cyber security is a common focus of all countries," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing. Full story
BRUSSELS, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Top leaders of the European Union (EU) on Friday vowed to tackle immigration issues in the Mediterranean with a task force, following a shipwreck off an Italian island that had killed hundreds in early October.
"Leaders all agree determined actions should be taken in order to prevent the loss of lives at sea and to avoid that such tragedies happen again," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said at the end of a two-day summit in Brussels. Full story